Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 7044 of 1964, in case of School District of Township of Chester, Vernon G. Jones and Mabel Jones, parents and natural guardians of Deborah Jones, a minor, et al. v. School District of the City of Chester.
Francis P. Connors, for appellants.
Jacob Sapovitz, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen.
This appeal involves the interpretation of § 1607 of the Public School Code of 1949, as amended, which provides in part: "Pupils residing in a school district in which no public high school is maintained may attend,
during the entire term, at the expense of the school district of which they are residents, the nearest or most conveniently located high school of such class as they may desire to attend, unless the board of school directors of the district of residence shall have assigned the pupils to a high school and adequate transportation is provided thereto." Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, § 1607, as amended, 24 P.S. § 16-1607.
In 1963, defendant-appellee, The School District of the City of Chester, notified plaintiff-appellant, The School District of the Township of Chester, that beginning with the 1964-65 school term it would terminate its past practice of accepting into its high school pupils residing in the township district, which does not maintain a high school, even though these pupils desired, pursuant to § 1607, to attend the city district high school. The township district and parents of § 1607 pupils residing therein brought an action in equity to restrain the city district from carrying out its intention. The lower court decreed (1) that the city district had a duty to accept § 1607 pupils who had already begun their education at its high school, (2) that it had no duty to accept § 1607 pupils not theretofore enrolled, and (3) that the township district had to assign the rejected § 1607 pupils to a district other than defendant's. Plaintiffs appealed from the latter two parts of the decree.
The narrow legal question raised on appeal is whether or not (granting that there is no high school in their school district, that defendant's high school is "nearest or most conveniently located" to them, and that their district has not assigned them elsewhere) defendant has a duty to accept pupils residing in the township district who choose to go to its high school. In our opinion, defendant has such a duty.
A reading of the statute indicates that if the Legislature had intended to require § 1607 pupils to obtain
defendant's consent it would have expressly provided for the same. On the one hand, § 1607 contains other express conditions on the pupils' choice but there is no mention of defendant's consent. On the other hand, in other situations involving attendance outside the school district of residence the Legislature expressly provided that the consent of the ...